Overcoming Obstacles

“Here ya go!”  As I was standing on the sidewalk on cold winter day, my friend flung me a seriously AWESOME winter cap that she had made me.  I caught the cap with utter shock, checked it out & beamed from ear to ear.  She had knit me this thoroughly magnificnet blue & white cap that has been my favorite for years.  She later explained that she had to figure out a creative way to get the cap into my hands because of my difficulty to receive gifts.

Each of us have quirky hangups that can create obstacles for connecting in healthy ways with others.  Maybe you have a sense of superiority over others & feel the need to help them improve – that’s an obstacle for connecting.  Perhaps you see yourself as a victim from a past trauma or abuse, so it’s difficult for you to trust, another obstacle.  I could endlessly list all kinds of obstacles we may have for connecting with others, but let’s be thankful that God has already overcome all of our obstacles and quirks because of genuine love.  While there may be hindrances and obstacles along our horizontal journey, our vertical relationship with God is never in peril nor compromised – for the simple reason that God never stops loving us.  His lovingkindness is everlasting!

Easy or Hard?

I like the “easy button” and easy for me includes: washing dishes, ironing, international travel, languages, grocery shopping, simple cooking and reading my Bible.  In contrast, I don’t like to do stuff that’s hard, which includes:  getting in shape, seeing suffering babies, recovering from jet lag and being gracious rather than snarky.

No doubt, you have your own lists of things that are easy and hard.  But just because something is hard, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done or we shouldn’t try to do it.  I say this because of my morning Bible reading in Philippians 2:7, where Paul says about Jesus, “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  This verse speaks to Jesus entering the human race, from start to finish, and experiencing human existence.  From my perspective, I would think that might have been difficult for Jesus to do – but He did it nonetheless.

If God asks you to do hard stuff, ask for divine Help and try!  Whethere something is hard or easy, let’s pre-decide to remain obedient and faithful to God!

Unable But Yielded

I’ve never had a day Ike today, feeling overwhelmed & inadequate to everything around me. I visited one of our malnutrition clinics here in Angola & when we landed this morning, there were 98 babies who were being looked after for malnutrition. That’s a HEAP OF BABIES & I’ve never experienced malnutrition in such high numbers. So walking around the buildings this morning, I seeing babies at various severities of malnutrition, this was definitely challenging. And I don’t find myself numb from the sheer numbers of babies. I’m able to recognize the distended bellies, stringy arms, knobby knees, glassy eyes, xylophone ribs, lightened hair . . . . I know the symptoms & it’s difficult to see each baby struggling to survive, along w each mom, abundantly stretched with worry & care from looking after their baby whom they deeply love. 

By the time we left this afternoon, the clinic had 125 babies & everyone was trying to figure out where to let everyone settle for some space & hopeful rest / recovery. 

When I’m past my breaking point, it helps me remember that whatever we do to the least, we do to Jesus. So let’s love well, no matter where we are nor what’s happening around us. 

No Crickets

When I’m in a malnutrition clinic here in Angola, I’m delighted to hear crying babies drown out any cricket noises. A crying baby in a malnutrition clinic means they have enough strength to cry. A quiet & lethargic baby in a malnutrition clinic can be very disturbing to me. It’s even worse when a quiet baby in these clinics looks into my eyes & I don’t see anything beyond a glassy stare.  

I’ve just spent the day at one of our 6 malnutrition clinics here in Angola & it’s uniquely unraveling to watch a baby struggle to survive.  Add in a stretched thin mom, worried for her baby’s life, and this can become very unsettling. So how do I process not just one mom & baby in this scenario but not less than ten?  

It helps to pray, for sure & it helps me to spend time & give genuine love. I know that God lives to spend time with you & enjoys your company!

That’s Awkward

Last night, I got to play on the softball team w my church & it was LOTS of fun!!  However, I felt not just a little awkward because I was the pitcher & I’ve never pitched before. So it was a vertical learning curve for me & some parts were just flat out ugly. 

And sometimes following God doesn’t feel smooth or suave.  Indeed, a lot of times when I follow God, I feel uncomfortable & awkward. But I’d prefer to follow God & feel awkward rather than not follow God & feel suave. And maybe that’s the whole point:  following God isn’t about our feelings but rather about obedience, full stop. Following God will likely make your flesh feel awkward & uncomfortable, but follow God nonetheless. I’d rather follow God & have my flesh be uncomfortable rather than not follow God & have my flesh be comfortable 🙂

Late or Early?

Each of us have different perspectives about “on time.”  For some folk, “on time” means 10minutes before the appointment / event.  Other people, “on time” is anything +/- 10minutes of the appointment.  And this can make a rub between folk who have these different perspectives, as well as how we perceive God’s involvement with time. 

Consider that not only are God’s ways higher than our ways & also God’s timing is far superior to our timing. And with this thinking, God is neither late nor early, but always in divine time, giving what we need, when we need it. God’s timing is always perfect!

Mind the Mouth

“Oooooos!”  I wish I had a dollar for every time I said something I wish I could’ve retracted. And then on the other side, there are also many times I wish I would’ve said something but didn’t. Too much talking or too little talking, each have their own shortfalls. So having discretion & wisdom with our words is massively helpful & constructive!  

Here are a few ideas that could be helpful with minding the mouth:

  • Affirmation – being encouraging is very helpful! 
  • Graceful truth – important investments that help us grow! 
  • Saying good – words that speak life rather than death express genuine love!

Let’s Be Guilty

Recently, I acquired a traffic ticket for not having a license plate on my front bumper. As much as I’d like to argue the stupidity of such a fine, an administrative detail to fund the tax base from trivial oversights, I’m guilty. So I paid the fine. 

Hopefully, you & I are guilty of more important things such as:

  • Sincere compliments,
  • inexplainable generosity,
  • gentle & constructive truth,
  • extravagant forgiveness,
  • supernatural patience &
  • divine wisdom

Take a quick moment now to text someone a sincere complement so that we’re both guilty of living out genuine love. 

And I now have a license plate on my front bumper 🙂

Wrong Place, Maybe

When I go to the grocery store, I expect to find groceries & when I go to my health club, I expect to find weight machines & workout stuff.  So people come to church & expect to find Jesus, but here’s an interesting exception for you to consider:

I Want a Wetsuit

Because I live in Colorado, swimming in lakes & reservoirs can be an arctic experience. I’m not a polar bear & an igloo is not my residential preference.  Nonetheless, last Summer I tried two open water swims & despite being a relatively proficient swimmer, I thought I was going to freeze & drown, until I tried a wetsuit. Then everything changed. 

The wetsuit insulated my skin & internal organs from the chilly water, it made me more buoyant & I could actually swim without hyperventilating     

Maybe walking w Holy Spirit is kind of like wearing a daily wetsuit that helps us navigate daily living without getting frozen in impossibilities or drowning in fear. Indeed, walking with Holy Spirit everyday helps us to do what is impossible in our natural abilities. Walking with Holy Spirit is comforting & encouraging. And walking with Holy Spirit keeps us moving forward w God’s divine purpose & design in our individual lives!

Let’s wear Holy Spirit like our favorite snuggly hoodie 🙂

The Humility Quotient

It’s a well known proverb that pride goes before a fall & i could be the poster child for this proverb. At my home church on Sunday, I did a face plant trying to lithely “pop” up on the stage. I caught my toe on the edge of the stage & the thunderous KABOOM was my pride exploding, along w smashing my thigh & scrapping up my elbow. I want to think that I’m agile, athletic, coordinated & spry, along with 20 years younger. So maybe I’m kind of athletic & sometimes agile. 

This fall has helped me come back to reality – I’m not a gymnast, I’m not 30years old & I’m not so spry. 

Lovingly, Holy Spirit helps us understand grace, humility & truth, along with a healthy dose of comic relief, when we don’t take ourselves too seriously. 

In the Middle

Do you like Easter?  I thoroughly enjoy celebrating Jesus’ resurrection & His defeat over death!  The next big celebration on the church calendar happens with Pentecost, the outpouring of Holy Spirit, & what a massive demonstration that was!!!  So what about the middle time between Easter & Pentecost?  What should we do in the middle, between these noteworthy events?

It seems to me that there’s a lot of our walk with God that happens in the middle. For example, we pray for something & then there’s often a middle time before we receive an answer. Or think about a time when God led you to start something & maybe you’ve done the beginning but you’re in the middle now, before you see the full culmination of what God has spoken to you. 

In between Jesus’ resurrection & Pentecost, Jesus told His disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they’re clothed with power from Holy Spirit. I’m really confident that when Jesus told His disciples this, they didn’t know what to expect – they didn’t know what Pentecost would look like for them. They just knew there was something more on the horizon. 

And I would encourage you, in the middle seasons, to anticipate & earnestly desire more of Holy Spirit in your daily living. More Holy Spirit can look lots of different ways for each of us, so let’s be careful not to specifically define what more is. Let’s just be open to having more of Holy Spirit in our lives!

The Trade Off

I just finished some really fun snowboarding & although it was cold & windy with some icy patches, the speed was glorious. So there’s some trade off to get the adrenaline rush that comes from going super fast, safely of course. 

In contrast, however, our relationship with Jesus can seem to have trade off points, but in reality we always win. So let me encourage you over this weekend to do some trade offs with Jesus:

  • Peace for anxiety 
  • Truth for confusion 
  • Genuine love for apathy 
  • Joy for worry 
  • Forgiveness for unforgiveness 
  • Trust for independence 

Such trades with Jesus are most certainly upgrade trades ,)

Recalculating

I hate this word & I’m learning to appreciate it at the same time. When I hear the word, “recalculating” it’s usually when my phone is giving me driving directions & I’ve missed a turn or I’m lost. More honestly, it means that I wasn’t listening or paying attention to the instructions, which happens more than I want to admit. 

This makes me wonder how often Holy Spirit recalculates our journey together.  And some questions begin to circulate in my thoughts:  Are we walking toward the same goal?  Do I want what Holy Spirit wants? Am I walking in step with Holy Spirit?  Am I listening to the directions throughout any given day?  

Not only do I want Holy Spirit to recalculate my journey so that I stay in step together, but I need Holy Spirit to recalibrate my attention so there’s less recalculating 🙂

Anyone agree with me? 

Miraculous Coincidence ,)

Over the last several months, I’ve experienced some amazing coincidences: meeting people who have common ministry goals, reconnecting w people from my distant past, stumbling into situations where I thrive, receiving unexpected financial support & loads more. With such “coincidences” I can choose to see them as happen chance & accidental or I can see them as divine encounters and appointments. 

I choose to see such miraculous coincidences as divine direction & answers to my prayers for God to direct my steps. Indeed, I pray almost everyday that God would direct my steps & that I won’t follow the enemy’s whispers, suggestions or influences. 

So I’m celebrating today, that God is directing my steps!  I’d invite you to join me in that daily prayer for God to direct your steps as well for divine appointments & direction in your daily living!

Loving Well

I received a text message from a friend this morning with a totally fantastic prayer & this has made me smile almost continuously!  I’m smiling because her prayer was very personal to me & deeply encouraging. As I’ve thought about this, it’s brought to mind that her text prayer to me is an expression of genuine love, which makes me think of lots of different ways we can express genuine love today!!  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Encouraging words – meaningful compliments & heartfelt affirmations are great ways to communicate love! 
  • Post some kind words in a friends FB wall. 
  • Run an errand that could free up some time for a friend / family member.
  • Send a nice card in the mail to someone who wouldn’t expect it.
  • Be friendly & engaging with the check out person at the grocery store.
  • Do something meaningful for your mate or a family member that lets them know you love them, unique to their preferences (not just what you would like). 

Let’s love well today!!

Looking for Jesus

When do we look for Jesus? And what do we expect to find, when we experience Him?  It seems to me that genuine Jesus is irresistible but religious Jesus isn’t nearly as riveting nor attractive. Here’s something short & interesting when you thinking about looking for Jesus:

Pick a Side

I recently enjoyed watching the NCAA college basketball championship game & the most common question was, “Who are you cheering for? Which team do you want to win?”
In essence, which side are you on? As we walked into the arena, we were inundated with Michigan fans so I wasn’t too keen to shout out, “GO ‘NOVA!!!!” But I had definitely picked a side & cheered accordingly.
The same holds true for all of us in the narrative between what the enemy says in contrast to Holy Spirit’s narrative.
The enemy accuses, condemns, shames, deceives & is always trying hurt, kill & destroy us.
On the other side, Holy Spirit advocates, convicts, comforts, leads us into truth, makes us alive, confirms our true identity & continuously pours love into our soul.
So pick your side & actively select the narrative to which you’ll listen & entertain / converse with, keeping in mind the respective outcomes that go with each side 🙂

Is There Peace?

Once Jesus rose from the dead, I think the disciples maybe had less anxiety for a few reasons. And maybe we could pick up a few pointers that could be helpful, since anxiety could be a challenge for a few of us.

  • Jesus raising from the dead changed the game because death didn’t get the final say – and nothing is impossible in our lives!
  • Jesus is in the future – this helps me to relax knowing that Jesus is timeless
  • Jesus is about the individual & not only the masses – the Prince of Peace was intentional to seek out individual encounters to resolve questions, doubts & reconciliation.

In the Middle

Death is the pre-requisite for resurrection & today is that middle ground. Death happened on Good Friday & resurrection happens tomorrow. But the disciples didn’t know that Jesus would raise tomorrow, no matter how much He told them. And they knew He was dead with lots of uncertainty on the horizon. This is often how the middle feels – uncertain & tenuous.
I don’t think there’s anyone who is reading this now who isn’t in some middle place in life. We can find ourselves in the middle of: schooling, fighting a disease, a financial crisis, a relationship challenge, a difficult decision & heaps more.
So what do we do in the middle? Here are some suggestions that could be helpful:
1 – community: the disciples held together when they found themselves in the middle & waiting for what was next
2 – faith focus: let’s keep our attention on God who works all things together for our good, as we stay in love with Him
3 – purposeful farming: be sure to plant healthy seeds like patience, gratitude, diligence & others since we will reap what we sow 🙂